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Japanese internment was wrong. Why do some of our leaders still try to justify it?

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Today, the vast majority of thinking Americans believe the enslavement of millions of people of African descent in the U.S. was immoral. It’s not even a question. We acknowledge our country’s shameful treatment of Native Americans, who were stripped of their lands and forced onto desolate reservations. Similarly, we understand that the Nazis’ extermination of 6 million Jews during World War II was a sweeping offense against humanity that must never be repeated.

Why, then, does a vocal minority still argue that the incarceration of approximately 120,000 people of Japanese descent during World War II — two-thirds of whom were American citizens — remains open to debate? This week marks the 77th anniversary of the issuance of Executive Order 9066 by President Franklin Roosevelt, which set the stage for the incarceration. Despite the passage of time, there continues to exist a misinformed perspective on this order and its ramifications. Too often, including in the letters pages of the Los Angeles Times, some still contend that the imprisonment of Japanese American citizens and legal residents without due process has some legal, rational or moral standing. It does not.

In December, for instance, a letter appeared in The Times saying that in incarcerating Japanese........

© Los Angeles Times